Early life Edit
Curtis was born in Los Angeles, California, the child of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Her paternal grandparents were Hungarian Jewish immigrants. Curtis's parents divorced in 1962 and her mother then married Robert Brandt. Curtis has an older sister, Kelly Curtis, who is also an actress, and several half-siblings (all from her father's remarriages), Alexandra, Allegra, Ben, and Nicholas Curtis (who died in 1994 of a drug overdose). Curtis attended both Westlake School in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills High School, but graduated from Choate Rosemary Hall. Returning to California in 1976, Jamie attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. Jamie considered majoring in social work, but left after a semester in order to pursue a career in acting.
Curtis's film debut was the 1978 horror Halloween, playing the role of Laurie Strode, the only central teenage character in the film who is not killed. The film was a major success and was considered the highest grossing independent film of its time, earning status as a classic horror film. Curtis was subsequently cast in several horror films, garnering her the title of a "scream queen".
Her next film following Halloween was the horror film, The Fog, which was directed by Halloween director John Carpenter. The film opened in February 1980 to mixed reviews but strong box office, further cementing Curtis as a horror film starlet. Her next film, Prom Night, was a low-budget Canadian slasher film released in July 1980. The film, for which she earned a Genie Award nomination for Best Performance by a Foreign Actress, was similar in style to Halloween, yet received negative reviews which marked it as a disposable entry in the then active "slasher film" genre. That year, Curtis also starred in Terror Train, which opened in October and met with a negative reaction akin to Prom Night. Both films performed only moderately well at the box office. Curtis had a similar function in both films - the main character whose friends are murdered, and is practically the only protagonist to survive. Film critic Roger Ebert, who had given negative reviews to all three of Curtis' 1980 films, said that Curtis "is to the current horror film glut what Christopher Lee was to the last one-or Boris Karloff was in the 1930s". Curtis later appeared in Halloween II, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and Halloween: Resurrection, as well as giving an uncredited voice role in Halloween III: Season of the Witch.
Her role in 1983's Trading Places helped Curtis leave her horror queen image behind. 1988's A Fish Called Wanda achieved near cult status – while showcasing her as a first rate comic actress. She won a Golden Globe for her work in 1994's True Lies. Her recent successful film roles include Disney's Freaky Friday (2003), opposite Lindsay Lohan. The movie was filmed at Palisades High School in Pacific Palisades, California, near where Curtis and Guest make their home with their children. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy in this movie.
In October 2006, Curtis told Access Hollywood that she has closed the book on her acting career to focus on family. However, she returned to acting after she was cast in June 2007 in Disney's live-action-animated film, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, co-starring opposite Piper Perabo as one of two live-action characters in the film.
Curtis made her TV debut in an episode of Columbo, but her first starring role was opposite Richard Lewis in the situation comedy Anything But Love, which ran for four seasons from 1989 through 1992. She appeared as nurse Lt. Duran in the short-lived television series of Operation Petticoat; based on the big-screen version which stars her real-life father. Her role as Hannah Miller received both a Golden Globe and People's Choice Award. She also starred in the made-for-TV film: Death of a Centerfold: The Dorothy Stratten Story in 1981, playing the part of the doomed Playmate. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for her work in TNT's adaptation of the Wendy Wasserstein play The Heidi Chronicles. More recently, Curtis starred in the CBS television movie Nicholas' Gift, for which she received an Emmy nomination. Curtis also appeared in the science fiction series, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and an early episode of The Drew Carey Show. Jamie Lee Curtis also appeared as a panelist on episodes of Match Game.
Working with illustrator Laura Cornell, Curtis has written a number of critically-acclaimed children's books, all published by HarperCollins Children's Books.
When I was Little: A Four-Year Old's Memoir Of Her Youth, 1993. Tell Me Again About The Night I was Born, 1996. Today I Feel Silly, and Other Moods That Make My Day, 1998; listed on the New York Times best-seller list for 9 weeks. Where Do Balloons Go?: An Uplifting Mystery, 2000. I'm Gonna Like Me: Letting Off a Little Self-Esteem, 2002. It's Hard to Be Five: Learning How to Work My Control Panel, 2004. Is There Really A Human Race?, 2006. Big Words for Little People, ISBN 9780061127595, 2008. My Friend Jay, 2009, edition of one, presented to Jay Leno
In 1987, Curtis filed a US patent application that subsequently issued as Patent No. 4,753,647. This is a modification of a diaper with a moisture proof pocket containing wipes that can be taken out and used with one hand. Curtis has refused to allow her invention to be marketed until companies start selling biodegradable diapers.
Curtis married actor Christopher Guest on December 18, 1984, becoming Lady Haden-Guest, when her husband inherited the Barony of Haden-Guest in 1996, upon the death of his father. The couple has two adopted children. In addition, Curtis is actor Jake Gyllenhaal's godmother.
On her website, Curtis tells her young readers, that she "moonlights as an actor, photographer, and closet organizer." She takes time to support various philanthropic groups. Curtis was Guest of Honor at the 11th annual Gala and Fundraiser in 2003 for Women in Recovery, Inc., a Venice, California-based non-profit organization offering a live-in, twelve-step program of rehabilitation for women in need. Past Honorees of this organization include Sir Anthony Hopkins; the 2005 honoree was Angela Lansbury. Curtis is also involved in the work of the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation, serving as the annual host for the organization's Dream Halloween event in Los Angeles, launched every year in October.
Curtis appears on the cover of the May/June 2008 issue of AARP Magazine, sporting gray hair and in water up to her chest.
Curtis is an alcoholic who was also once addicted to pain killers that she started using after a routine cosmetic surgical procedure. She got sober in 1999 and maintains that recovery is the greatest achievement of her life.
During California's 2008 General Election, Curtis appeared in the "YES on Prop 3" TV ads.